MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Japan may sign this year an agreement on the Mega Manila Subway, one of the Duterte administration's major projects for addressing the megacity’s traffic woes, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Tuesday, April 18.
Tugade said the agreement is hoped to be signed when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe comes to the Philippines in November for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Summit and Related Summits.
“Target signing of this contract is November this year. Hopefully, that agreement will be signed between Prime Minister Abe and President Duterte in November,” Tugade said at the unveiling of “DuterteNomics,” the administration's economic development blueprint, in Pasay City.
The Japanese International Cooperation Agency has expressed willingness to help foot the bill for the subway, pegged at P227 billion. JICA started conducting a feasibility study during the administration of then president Benigno Aquino III.
Tugade said the project will be funded through a combination of official development assistance (ODA) and government funds.
“This is a very ambitious project. Give us your trust, give us your confidence, we will build it,” he promised.
Abe vowed to ramp up Japan's assistance to the Philippines when he visited Manila in January. Japan is the the Philippines’ biggest source of ODA.
The Mega Manila Subway is expected to cut travel time from Quezon City to Taguig to 31 minutes. The 25-kilometer underground system will connect major business districts like Ortigas, Makati, and Bonifacio Global City.
The government expects the subway to be used by 350,000 passengers daily in its first year of operation.
The subway, so far, is expected to have the following route:
Tugade said that based on the DOTr's latest meeting, the subway may even reach the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, making the airport much more accessible to average Filipinos.
“As of yesterday, we were discussing alignments. Tutumbukin po ‘yung airport kasi malapit na po (it will reach the airport because it’s already nearby),” said Tugade.
The transportation chief is so eager to get started with the subway, which is currently at the project development stage, that he is pushing for it to begin construction a year earlier than planned.
“It is targeted that this project will be started on the 4th quarter of 2020, that’s what the project proponent says. I’m trying to push to start it by 2019. Completed date will be the 2nd quarter of 2024,” said Tugade.
The Mega Manila Subway is one of several railway projects the Duterte administration is pursuing. This includes the Philippine National Railway (PNR) North and South Lines, Mindanao Railway, and the Subic-Clark Cargo Railway.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.